“Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash theirhands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
As our Lord Jesus warns us elsewhere to “beware of false prophets,” he warns us here to beware of false religion. Nothing is more dangerous to the souls of men, and nothing more deadly than false prophets and false religion.
The Apostle Paul warns us that those who eat and drink the bread and wine of the Lord’s Table without faith in Christ eat and drink damnation to themselves. What he says about the Lord’s Table is true of and applicable to all other religious practices without faith in Christ. To profess faith without faith, to claim an interest in Christ without an interest in Christ, to be baptized without being born of God, to pretend to be a child of God while you are yet a child of the devil, all these things are eating and drinking damnation to yourself.
Our Lord Jesus warns us again and again to, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” The warning is repeated often because it is needed often. Here he explains exactly what he meant by the leaven of the Pharisees. When our Lord warns us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, he is talking about the doctrine, or the religion of the Pharisees.
What a humbling picture we have before us of apostate, human religion. Continue reading